February 17, 2015 at 12:57 am (5 Heads, Kite) (, , , , )

Kite – 1999 – Japan

Sawa is an orphaned schoolgirl turned indentured assassin. She is deceived by a mysterious criminal organization to believe her targets are pedophiles, crooks, and other seedy people. In actuality, she kills anyone who threatens the organization’s enigmatic operations. When Sawa is ordered to kill another young assassin whom she is emotionally involved with, she rebels and exacts revenge on her boss.

Kite’s plot asks more questions than it answers. Why is Sawa an assassin? Why does she tolerate her sleazy boss? What is the goal of the criminal organization? Why is the film called Kite when that word or name appears nowhere during the film itself? Kite’s revenge narrative is straightforward, but lacks the necessary background information to justify any of it. This prioritizing of style over substance is common in Japanese animation of this genre and era.

At least Kite has a lot of style. Slick animation, creative editing, and a jazzy soundtrack accentuate dynamic scenes of absurd carnage and destruction. Sawa’s gun shoots explosive bullets, and there is no shortage of bodies gorily rupturing. The whole film is pretty crass. A man is kicked in the balls and vomits in explicit detail. Another man pisses himself as he dies. While people probably do urinate during their death spasms, most films have the taste not to linger on it.

Kite’s violence is only one of its many tasteless elements. About half of the characters are pedophiles, including Sawa’s boss. Sawa has endured a sexual relationship with him from a young age. The graphic depictions of this are missing from the most commonly available American version of the film, but it is still a key element of the plot. Combined with a pessimistic ending where Sawa and her boyfriend are presumably killed, Kite’s violence and perversion feels really reprehensible.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. In Kite, there is a fast food chain called Make Fat, which is kind of hilarious.


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